Jonathan Raban is a wonderful writer. His ability to connect seemingly unrelated things and weave it all into an entertaining story is top notch. He creates such vivid scenarios, to the point where I felt like I was his first shipmate, riding the waves along with him. His detail is extensive and that's unfortunately where he lost me. I LOVED all the historical detail, but the exhaustive descriptions of the mechanics of sailing bored me to tears. Now, I'm not a sailor - if I were, I can imagine really enjoying that aspect of the book as well. Also, his racism peeked its head out a few times, when discussing the native people of this area of the world - mostly in how he identified so deeply with the stories and experiences of the colonizing English and Spanish explorers, while the native experience was treated as a novelty at best. He was also very harsh in describing the people he met on his journey. According to him, just about everyone he met was loud, fat, ugly and unpleasant. What does that say about YOU, Mr. Raban?